I Love the Bartender
Ok, let's talk about the ways to tackle the bar situation for your wedding. Again, same PSA as last week that the best place to start is to talk to your catering team and coordinator about the rules you have to adhere to first and foremost before making these choices!
I am here to tell you that, while having a fully open bar for your whole event is sure fun, it can come with a giant price tag. For some couples an open bar is really important in which case, you get it!! But if you and your partner find yourselves in the camp of wanting your guests to have an awesome time, but also want to keep it in check budget-wise here are a few ways to consider structuring your bar.
Limit options and product. Basically this means only offering beer and wine for the event, or beer, wine and a signature cocktail. Signature cocktails can be offered for the entire event, or you can choose to offer them for just cocktail hour. This is totally up to you provided your venue allows hard alcohol. If they don't then the decision is already made for ya!
Talk to your catering/bar team about providing your own alcohol. A lot of couples will opt to take care of the purchasing of their own alcohol if their venue/catering team allows for it. This is a giant job so it is definitely worth getting a price list from your catering team and making sure that the money you will be saving is worth the effort. Make sure you know if catering or venue will charge a corkage fee for providing your own alcohol and if that amount is high, it's always easiest to get everything through your vendors. Hauling a zillion cases of wine the day of your wedding can be a real hassle and it's a ton of work! Ask your coordinator here! We can help you make the right choice!
KEG ANNOUNCEMENT! Kegs are super rad and let you get some delicious local offering but if you plan to provide your own you def need to know what you're getting into. Remember that someone will have to pick them up the day of the wedding (or keep them iced down in a bucket for the night before if the day before works better for pickup) and take them back with them at the end of the wedding to be returned. ALSO!!!! Make sure you talk with catering/bar and coordination to get the right taps and equipment needed to serve it. It can be a real bummer if you buy a keg and no one can drink it haha!
Look at the hosting options. This means talking to your catering team/bar service about what you intend to pay for and what guests may still have access to, but have to pay for themselves. Consider hosting up to a certain amount and having the catering/bar team let coordination know when they are nearing that amount. If it's early and you want to add more to the fund, great! Otherwise, you can opt to have things go to a cash bar for the remainder of the event. You can also say you want to host the wine and beer, or just a portion of the offerings.This means that Aunt Sharon can totes still have her Goose martini but she can pay for that herself. Your besties can drink the heck out of your wine and beer selections with no worries about someone accidentally buying a $30 drink.
At the end of the day you know what will work best with your budget and your guests so trust yourself! Don't go broke hosting a rad bar. People want to come and celebrate with you but don't feel like you have to make all the Aunt Sharon's happy. Do what you are most comfortable with and that's always the right answer!